The Sign of Righteousness—Romans 4:11
"And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them" (Romans 4:11)
When I was in my early twenties, I occasionally traveled to other states to help train cooks and servers when new Perkins restaurants were opening. I’d be gone for a couple weeks at a time. After one trip, my boyfriend surprised me with a beautiful diamond engagement ring. We had been talking marriage, and I knew it was coming, but this was one of the best homecomings I’d had ever had. A little over a year later, we were married and the rest…well, as they say, is history.
My ring and the millions of rings floating around the world are a symbol of the amazing covenant of marriage. It is not uncommon during a wedding ceremony for an explanation of the ring to be given. Wearing a ring doesn’t make you married; instead, marriage is willingly entering into a covenant relationship with another person. The ring is simply the token of the exchange that takes place.
In the same way, circumcision served Abraham (and the entire Jewish race) as a symbol of a covenant relationship between God and Abraham. It was a physical token of what took place privately.
Here’s the important truth Paul is getting at: This covenant relationship happened long before the token of it. Abraham was declared righteousness before God simply because he believed what God told him. This pattern can be true for us. We can obtain a right-standing with God simply by trusting in His provision, which is Jesus, and not in anything we can do to earn it.
Today, where are you trying to earn God’s approval? Where can you simply stop and thank Him for what He’s already done? How does understanding this usher you into peace today?
Previous: Romans 4:9-10 Next: Romans 4:12
Original article published July 3, 2009.